The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reminded Together for Catalonia (JxCat) that Catalan Parliament vice president Josep Costa had the obligation to officially have reported his trip to Iceland last January, in accordance with the Spanish law on foreign action and service.
This reminder represents the first clash over Catalan pro-independence official foreign activity in the mandate of new Spanish foreign affairs minister Arancha González Laya, and it was part of a parliamentary response to JxCat spokeswoman in the Spanish parliament Laura Borràs, as reported by Europa Press news agency.
On January 17th, Borràs asked the Spanish government in writing why Spain's chargé d'affaires in Iceland had joined the meetings that Costa had scheduled in Reykjavik and also "through which channels" Spain had learned of "a meeting to which the Spanish government had not been invited”.
The Spanish government's response was that they had known about Costa's visit by the Icelandic authorities, although this information "should have reached" the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs "via the Catalan government or the Catalan Parliament itself", which have the "obligation", according to Spain’s Foreign Action Act of 2014, to keep this Department informed "of proposals on trips, visits, exchanges and actions with a foreign projection".
The text goes on saying that all this is necessary so that the Ministry can "inform and, if necessary, issue reasoned recommendations" on whether the initiatives are in line with the "guidelines, aims and objectives of the foreign policy set by the government".
Laura Borràs's question to the Spanish government came after the Spanish embassy was mobilised for Costa’s visit to Iceland, where he maintained various institutional contacts with the country's authorities.
Specifically, the embassy "invited itself" to a meeting that Costa had scheduled with the president of the Icelandic Parliament, as denounced by vice president Costa on his social media profiles. For Costa, that was a "very undiplomatic" gesture, to which he reacted by saying that the Spanish government was not welcome. Costa's intention in that meeting was to denounce repression in Catalonia.
Aquí l’embaixada espanyola ens comunica que s’ha autoconvidat a la reunió que tenim demà amb el presient del Parlament d’Islàndia. Els diré que és un gest molt poc diplomàtic i que no són benvinguts, però en tot cas no aconseguiran silenciar la nostra denúncia de la repressió. pic.twitter.com/M346tQjI5z— Josep Costa🎗 (@josepcosta) January 16, 2020
"Here the Spanish embassy informs us that it's invited itself to the meeting we've got tomorrow with the speaker of the Parliament of Iceland", Costa wrote on Twitter, attaching a screenshot of the email he'd received from the embassy's deputy head of mission.
"I'll tell them it's a very undiplomatic gesture and that they're not welcome, but in any case they won't manage to silence our denunciation of the repression," Costa continued.
The embassy's email says that they have "agreed with Icelandic authorities" for their chargé d'affaires to "take part in the institutional meetings planned both with the Speaker of the Icelandic Parliament and with the Director General of International Trade of the Foreign Affairs Ministry."